Eli Manning, 09.01.12

Q: How are the Cowboys different other than the personnel?
A: We’ll have to see. Obviously, it’s the first game of the season. You can obviously look at their preseason games, but they probably did not show all of their new tricks and blitzes and looks. Their front seven is very similar. Obviously, they’ve added some new guys in the secondary and two new starting cornerbacks and safeties, so they’ve got some new people in there playing. We’ll have to see what their approach is and obviously we’re going to have a plan. We have an idea of what we think they might do and as the game goes, we’ll see what their plan is and adjust probably.

Q: Tom talked about the pride of being the defending champion. Obviously, you have a target on your chest now for everybody you’ll play. How important is it to establish that immediately in Week 1 that we are going to be heard from again and we will defend this championship?
A: You always want to get off to a fast start and play well in the first week of the season, but all we can concentrate on is having a great plan, understanding what we need to do, what our rules are and go out there on Wednesday night. Execute it to the best of our ability, adjust as the game goes and when we see what their game plan is going to be defensively try to execute and make plays when you have opportunities.

Q: Doesn’t it seem like yesterday it was like you were playing them for the division title?
A: It seems about 8 months ago. You look back, it was the last real game that they’ve played and we’ve got to see how much they’ll change. What’s going to be different? If they’ll have more confidence in their corners and see what their plan will be, but they’re always very good defensively. Good players… Can get a good pass rush and so we’ve got a game plan for that and make sure the receivers are getting open in a timely fashion.

Q: Knowing what you know about playing as a defending champ, is there something that you want your teammates to know in terms of always getting an opponent’s best shot and knowing teams are keenly aware that they’re facing the defending champs?
A: I think it’s just a matter of it still comes down to your preparation. You’ve got to go into the week, have great practices, have a great understanding of what you’re trying to do, have a great understanding of your opponent and what their weaknesses are, what their strengths are, what they’re going to try to do and then execution. There’s nothing different. There’s no special feeling or anything different you have to do. It’s just a matter of going in there and playing your hardest and working hard all week.

Q: Now that the preseason is over what is the thing that most satisfies you with where this team stands and what is the thing that maybe troubles you the most?
A: We’ve got to keep working. We’ve done some really good things, but there’s still room for improvement. I liked the way our team has responded, the way they kept grinding through training camp and kept trying to improve each and every week and we’ve got to keep that same mentality. There’s going to be things from this game afterwards that we’re going to learn from that we’re going to need to improve. Hopefully we’ve got the basics down and our rules down, but there are always things you can tweak to make sure you’re making improvements and hopefully we’ll continue to do that all year.

Q: Is it cool to know that it’s you and the Cowboys at home opening up?
A: It’s definitely a great honor to be playing the first game of the regular season and at home, at our stadium. It should be a great atmosphere, a great crowd. It’s a fun environment, looking forward to that and looking forward to playing a tough team in the Cowboys. A great tradition and history between the Giants and the Cowboys and looking forward to another great battle.

Q: Is there any difference in preparation when you have a receiver like Victor Cruz, who came in last year and was certainly a surprise to a lot of teams in the first part of the season. Now this year, he’s pretty established with what he can do. Does that change at all what defenses will do or the preparation that you guys have to do knowing that they now know that weapon?
A: Obviously, we played with the Cowboys. We played them twice late in the season last year, so we saw what they tried to do to slow down our passing attack and our running game, so we assume they’ll bring in some of those same tactics of doubling Victor, doubling Hakeem. We’ve got to, in a sense, plan for that and then other guys have got to step up. If they’re doubling those two guys, there should be two other guys who are singled up and should have matchups where guys can win.

Q: Is this as good as you’ve felt about your weapons entering a season?
A: I’m feeling good about it. I feel we have a number of guys who can make big plays for us, who know the offense, who are going to be consistent, who can do the correct things and they’re guys who have a great understanding of what we’re trying to do. Guys who have been here, either a number of years or just have quickly picked up the offense, so that’s always a good feeling when you have faith in the guys that they are going to be doing the right things and winning for you when you’ve got one-on-one matchups.

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